Origin: Blaringhem, Nord, France
In November 2011 I was in Lille for a few days, checking out among other things the excellent beer range at the Abbaye des Saveurs shop in Vieux-Lille which will shortly feature in a Beer Sellers piece here. It was an opportunity to remind myself both of the joys of traditional bières de garde from this region of France, and to explore the work of some of the newer breweries now emerging, who take a more eclectic, internationally inspired approach to developing fine local products.
A good example of these is the Brasserie du Pays Flamand (‘Flemish Country brewery’), opened in 2006 by banker Mathieu Lesenne and commercial engineer Olivier Duthoit, both in their 30s and home brewers. For the first two years they contracted at another brewery, Saint-Germain, before opening at their current site in the village of Blaringhem on the edge of the Nord département, in a former distillery that once made spirits out of locally grown beet.
The brewery first made a success of its Bracine brand using substantial quantities of Flemish hops, before developing a new range of specialities, also well hopped but “more anchored in the brewing tradition”. Not long ago much of the area was Dutch speaking, as the place name attests, and the dialect survives – the brand name, Anosteké, is a dialect rendering of ‘tot de volgende keer’, ‘until the next time’.
I tried the Brune, which is subtitled curiously “imperial smout” [sic] – not quite an imperial stout. ratebeer.com has it as a Black IPA but I’m not so sure – there’s a definite stoutishness but also suggestions of an unusually well hopped and roasty dark abbey beer. Whatever, it’s a class act.
The beer is thick and near-black with a subsiding tan head. Fruit cake, tart plums, rum and coffee are evident on a rich aroma with a sweetish black treacle note, heralding a fruity palate that gradually dries, with lots of rich chocolate character, angelica, touches of raspberry and cherry fruit, a hint of brandy and a definite chewy hop note. A smooth, slightly clinging swallow leaves a complex finish with notes of tobacco, wood ash. Dry, roasty, charred and bitterish hoppy flavours linger over moreish sweetness. The next time can’t come too soon.